The daily semicolon: The rest of your story
Semicolon – A punctuation mark (;) used to join two independent clauses in a sentence. The semicolon shows that the ideas in the two clauses are related: “Jack really didn’t mind being left without a car; he had the house to himself.”

“The semicolon is like a marriage counsellor, trying to unify two partners who prefer to be independent but who stay together for the kids.”

Contrary to popular opinion, the semicolon (semee-kolon) is not given to us so you and I have a winkey face key to use on our keyboards. And the semicolon is not a stomach ache that feels like an 18 wheeler careening down your colon. It is a real and often forgotten punctuation mark.

Punctuation is not being taught very much in school these days, nor is math and keyboarding. Real skills like entrepreneurialism and performing well on Government Achievement Tests are taught instead. This makes me wonder. Being a human is about our ability to communicate verbally and in writing. Adding big numbers and typing quickly with few errors also contributes to the nice feeling we get about being a Hu-man. Selling things and passing Government tests are important, but do these things make us better thinkers?

I don’t use semicolons that often. I find them a little confusing. The semicolon comes between two independent parts of a sentence that could stand on their own, but prefer not to. It sounds like the semicolon is a marriage counsellor, trying to unify two partners who prefer to be independent but who stay together for the kids.

When I looked up what a semicolon is, it made me think. Grammar does that, it makes us think. And thinking is good, at least that is what my wife says. I’m still not sure what she means by that.

Technically, the semicolon links two independents; it is an active pause that links one statement with another. The semicolon separates the major elements, it is unknown by most of us and as a result, it is underutilized. Stay with me people: The semicolon links, creates an active pause, separates major elements, and it is unknown and underutilized.

The comma is everywhere, like a dandelion. The period ends things and is never finished it’s work. Question marks are interesting but too common. The semicolon is unique. It is a little like a $2 Dollar bill, twice the fun but you don’t want to spend it. I think the semicolon contains some hidden lessons about living well. Contrary to what Oprah and Martha Stewart tell us, living well is not about the kind of soaps or creams that we use and it is way more than buying infusers.

Living well is about a purpose that links what we do with what is important to us, to our families and to our world. Living well is finding ways to actively pause, to break from routine, to reflect, to laugh and to consider. It is also about thinking about your own majors… the values that make your life worth more than putting in time until the next vacation. Living well is often unknown and underutilized until we hit some kind of emotional and physical limit that forces us to slow down, reflect and reconnect with what makes you and I unique and special.

In short, the semicolon is about the things that make your life unique and worthwhile: linking your stories, actively pausing, considering the major elements of your life, exploring the unknown and the underutilized.

In his 2013 book, “Die Empty” (see reference section) Todd Henry writes about how we do three kinds of work in our lives: Mapping, Making and Meshing.

  • Mapping is planning our work, setting our priorities and figuring out what we will do. Henry calls this, “the work before the work
  • Making is doing the work, checking off the “To Do’s.”
  • Meshing is “the work between the work.” Meshing involves activities that stretch and grow, build our knowledge, cultivate our curiosity, cause us to pay attention, and when we take time for reflection and for renewal.

What Henry is saying to me is that all of the work we do is important. We need to plan, we need to get things done, and we also need time to mesh it all together. What helps me to stay on track is having semicolon time.

How is your Semicolon time?

Linking: What are your personal stories and how do they link together? How well does your personal story mesh with your companies story about what is important? How often and how well do you connect with people who care about you and whom you care for?

Pausing: How do you actively pause: each day, weekly and beyond? Is how you are living enough to sustain you?

The majors: What are your major elements, your major values? How are these values present in your decision making? Your work? Your parenting and your financial decisions? How you manage your time?

Unknown and underutilized: Where are you curious? Experiencing wonder and mystery? Out of your comfort zone?

Selling things and passing tests are important, but are we becoming better thinkers?

For most of us, we love the exclamations and the question marks. We like doing things with emphasis and doing it for fun. Most men that I know are even comfortable with periods (;)… in fact, we don’t even notice how often we use the things! Semicolons take a little work but they bring the important things together.

The waistline becomes the waste line if we ignore the Semicolons of our lives.

Corn maze 3

Keep it real;

If you liked this post, you will want to read another recent post called The Crayon Whisperer.



(I am now part of Amazon’s Affiliate program. I receive a referral fee if you purchase a resource through one of links in the article. It is just one more way you can support my blog.)

Henry, T. (2013). Die empty. New York: Penguin group. Page 22.

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